12 September 2007

pfft... Poland ruins a European Day

From Guardian Unlimited

Poland blocks EU protest over death penalty

Ian Traynor in Brussels
Wednesday September 12, 2007
The Guardian

Poland is blocking a move by all other EU countries to inaugurate a continent-wide day of protest against the death penalty, with the conservative and staunchly Roman Catholic government in Warsaw arguing for parallel European condemnation of abortion and euthanasia.

Frantic efforts were under way behind the scenes yesterday to try to persuade the government of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the prime minister, to end its opposition to making October 10 Europe's day against the death penalty.

Capital punishment is outlawed everywhere in the EU. All 26 EU countries, except Poland, support the proposal which was scheduled for agreement next week at a meeting of EU ministers.

The decision may need to be scrapped because of Poland's opposition which has exasperated many EU governments and added to the Kaczynski government's reputation as the most troublesome in the union.

The measure requires the support of all EU governments to be implemented.

The issue was to have been discussed by EU ambassadors in Brussels today but has been dropped because of the prospect of failure.

Instead ministers from Portugal, currently chairing the EU and hosting next week's meeting, were lobbying the Polish government yesterday to lift its veto.

While Poland observes the European ban on the death penalty, its president, Lech Kaczynski, the prime minister's twin brother, has called for a re-examination of the ban, while Roman Giertych, leader of a far-right party and, until recently, deputy prime minister, wants it to reintroduced for convicted paedophiles.

Richard Howitt, a Labour MEP and vice-president of the European parliament's human rights subcommittee, said Poland's position brought into question its commitment to European values. Any attempt by Warsaw to reintroduce the death penalty could see its EU membership frozen, he added.

"The Poles think it's very restrictive to talk only of the death penalty," said one source. "They want a discussion on a larger scope, on the right to life, on abortion, on euthanasia."

Polish officials confirmed their government's opposition.

"Our position is quite clear," said one official. "We want to discuss this in a broader context. Maybe we could call [the day] differently."

Jacek Holówska, a philosopher at Warsaw University, wrote:
In my opinion the protest against the European day against the death penalty was aimed at forcing the states of Western Europe to change their stance on abortion and euthanasia. This moral blackmail seems uncalled for. It exploits human life for political purposes. The government seems to be saying - although it won't admit it - that we would agree to ban the death penalty if abortion and euthanasia are banned at the same time... You can't seriously argue that the moral status of a foetus is equal to that of an adult person - although you can state that both were created by God. For agnostics and atheists this argument is irrelevant.
Moral blackmail it is. 26 EU member countries derailed by lone protester Poland which wants to push its own agenda unrelated to the original plan.

See also - European Union - policy and action on the death penalty

Tonight's episode of The Chaser's War on Everything showed the clip of the Chaser's stunt at APEC. Check them on MySpace. Australian satire at its most extreme - no wonder our politicians hate them!

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